Israel is set to build more than 700 homes in a Jewish area of east Jerusalem, a watchdog group said Wednesday, potentially complicating peace talks with Palestinians leaders that are already on life support.
The group Peace Now said Israel renwed a call for contractor bids in the area of Gilo, the Associated Press reports. A spokesman for Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel said the timing was unrelated to the ongoing talks with the Palestinians. But the negotiations are currently at an extremely sensitive point, with the latest settlement news prompting fears the talks will veer off course. The report also came after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas announced on Tuesday that he would pursue a campaign for greater recognition of a Palestinian state, despite earlier promises that he would not do so.
Hagit Ofran, a Peace Now spokeswoman, said the Israeli government's move was designed to "make problems" in the negotiations.